Condo Blues: How to Make a Brick Tree Ring on Uneven Ground

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How to Make a Brick Tree Ring on Uneven Ground

After I repaired our crumbling brick garden border (read the tutorial here) it was time to turn our attention to the brick tree ring.

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Yep. The brick wall around the tree in the front yard is falling over too.


For the same reasons why the brick garden border flopped over. I built it quick instead of correctly. I never got back to “fixing it right later” because I wanted to get the reclaimed bricks out of the trunk of the car as soon as possible. I also built it too high. Not to mention, it would have been better to create a circular tree ring with keystone shaped bricks or stones instead of the free rectangle shaped bricks I used because did I mention free vintage bricks?

Another factor is I didn’t build my tree ring level but to the the slope in my yard for drainage.

Brick tree ring Before

Let’s fix that.

How to Build a Brick Tree Ring Boarder

You will need:


Leveling Sand (this is the kind I used)– mistake #1 was not using leveling sand the first time

Paver lock sand mistake #2. This is a Polymeric sand that acts like glue after you wet it.

Tamper (it looks like this) – check if  you can rent these or check one out at your local tool lending library for free!

Wood stakes



Tape measure or ruler

Paint brush


Update 4/24/2019: Eventually the ground shifted with the weather and so did the bricks in my tree ring. I recommend using this Dimex EasyFlex Flex Paver Landscape   behind the pavers for stability unless you like rebuilding your stone garden boarders every two years.

Disclosure: I am including affilaite links in this post for your convenience.

Do it:
1. Dig a shallow trench in the dirt with the shovel where you want your garden border. I completed this step the first time around. All I had to do is unstack the current border and clean it up a bit.

2. Make the Guide: Place the wood stakes next to the edge of where you want the garden border. Tie the time to the stakes level and at the uniform height you want the finished border. Since my yard slopes downward slightly for drainage purposes, I will need to build my tree ring with one side of the bricks sitting higher or lower than the other side ( s) of the tree ring. This is why creating the guide and doubling  check that the guide is consistent across several points of the circle with a level is crucial. Learn from my previous mistake friends.

3. Place a shovelful of leveling sand in the trench. Not doing this was my first mistake. The leveling sand will help you when it is time to jiggle the brick or stone a bit to make it level when you are building your border. it will also allow the finished stone or brick border to shift as the ground freezes and thaws in cold weather.

4. Tamp the sand smooth with the tamper.

5. Place the first row of bricks or stone in the trench according to your guide rope and double check each brick or stone with the level. You  made need to wiggle the stone or brick a bit or add or remove a bit of sand underneath the brick if you need to adjust the height and/or make it level.

 On the level!

6.  My vintage bricks are uneven with age and not flat. I added a layer of leveling sand to the top of the first layer of bricks. I also added handfuls of paver lock sand for good measure since my bricks are not perfectly flat. You may not have to add the paver lock sand if you are working with identical pavers.

7. Place and offset the second row of bricks on top of the first checking that each brick is level and at an even height to your twine guide.

I use a half of brick on the ends to keep the wall nice and flush.
8. Brush paver lock sand onto and into where each brick or stone meets with the paint brush. Make sure you fill each crack/seam with as much sand as possible because this is the “glue” that will hold your border together and keep it from eventually flopping over.

Brush! Brush!

9. Water the seams of the garden border to activate the paver lock sand. You don’t need to completely soak it with the garden hose. Wetting the sand so it is thoroughly damp is fine.

I wet the bricks and sand with a watering can and water from our rain barrel. Why? That’s what my rain barrel is for that’s why!

10. Stand back and admire your work!

Looking for more garden border ideas? Check out the following options - and more! - below!
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